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January 15, 2010

Columbia University is commissioning artists to make the footnoted films of Infinite Jest

Infinite Jest goes on (to the screen) | Books | guardian.co.uk Nice one, universe, you really surprised me.
How surreally wonderful to discover that an entire exhibition devoted to the "works" of David Foster Wallace's fictional creation James Incandenza is set to open later this month. A cult filmmaker, Incandenza is the star of Wallace's seminal novel Infinite Jest (the 1,000-page book centres on the missing master copy of his film of the same name, so entertaining it renders spectators incapable of doing anything other than watch it). As was his wont, Wallace included a footnote in the novel about the filmography of Incandenza, and now using the author's "detailed list of over 70 industrial, documentary, conceptual, advertorial, technical, parodic, dramatic non-commercial, and non-dramatic commercial works", Columbia University's Neiman Centre has commissioned artists and filmmakers to make the movies. They don't appear to be taking on the Infinite Jest movie itself – creating something that renders an audience catatonic with pleasure would be something of a challenge, I suppose. Wallace is, of course, an author who inspires this sort of obsessive devotion – and his own extensive footnoting (Infinite Jest contains almost 400) means there's plenty of material to explore. But there must be lots of other fictional creations that deserve a life outside the page – David Barnett pointed last year to a trend for novels by fictional characters, but are there any other fictional filmmakers whose work you'd like to actually see? Artists? Musicians?

January 13, 2010

Conan O'Brien tears into NBC, Jay Leno

Conan O'Brien's Spitestorm

January 11, 2010

Avatar causing depression in people longing for Pandora

Audiences experience 'Avatar' blues - CNN.com
(CNN) -- James Cameron's completely immersive spectacle "Avatar" may have been a little too real for some fans who say they have experienced depression and suicidal thoughts after seeing the film because they long to enjoy the beauty of the alien world Pandora. On the fan forum site "Avatar Forums," a topic thread entitled "Ways to cope with the depression of the dream of Pandora being intangible," has received more than 1,000 posts from people experiencing depression and fans trying to help them cope. The topic became so popular last month that forum administrator Philippe Baghdassarian had to create a second thread so people could continue to post their confused feelings about the movie. "I wasn't depressed myself. In fact the movie made me happy ," Baghdassarian said. "But I can understand why it made people depressed. The movie was so beautiful and it showed something we don't have here on Earth. I think people saw we could be living in a completely different world and that caused them to be depressed."

January 10, 2010

Raph Koster on the dishonesty at the heart of Avatar

Raph’s Website -- Oh, Avatar I enjoy Koster's take on this, because of course the next step would be for the humans to come back and wipe out the Na'Vi. And maybe we'll even see that in a sequel.
The dishonesty does not lie in the basics of the plot. It is an old plot, as has been pointed out by many. It’s Pocahontas, it is Ferngully, it is Dances With Wolves. It is perhaps most this latter one, because Avatar isn’t aimed at kids, it is aimed at adults, and yet it is inescapably more of a cartoon than Dances With Wolves was. One of the common critiques is the acknowledgement that “then, the humans come back and win” is the natural next step. Yes, yes it is. And part of the reason why Dances With Wolves works better in that sense is that you know that in fact, everything that the hero does didn’t work in the long run. In Ferngully we deal with fairies and fairy tales, and of course, the tale of Pocahontas does not much resemble the history of Pocahontas; Avatar suffers from being more of a fairy tale than its realism would suggest. I have read that Cameron wrote his story a long time ago. It may be that it shows in the cartoonish villainy of the bad guys, weak-minded greedhead corporations and militaristic nutcases. What is shown is bad business and bad military planning. Our thinking on this sort of issue is a lot more sophisticated than it used to be, and there’s something wincingly wrong about a line like “they don’t need anything we have,” a sort of “noble savage” attitude that grates. Especially these days when we learn more every day about sophisticated agricultural methods such as terra preta, or more about advanced civilizations living in the heart of the jungle. The film even undermines itself; it seems internally conflicted at times, as when the death of Michelle Rodriguez’ character comes across almost as her just deserts for having abandoned her post earlier. The fact that Sigourney Weaver’s character makes it to the heart of the Na’vi culture before dying is a weak cop-out compared to how these things go in real life — the story of Moses has a better ending. The funny thing is that there’s enough hooks there that you could see moments that were more bracingly real. The chief villain, the soldier, is motivated more by revenge for his ruined face (and more importantly, his ruined invincibility) than by anything else. But it is badly underdeveloped. It runs through the narrative everywhere: characters who act the way they do because of motives we cannot quite see. . . .